Security Has Ranking Value
Recently a number of our clients have changed their websites from HTTP to HTTPS (Secure Hypertext Transfer Protocol) on our advice. HTTPS is primarily for security reasons and customer confidence, but it also has a knock-on effect on your search ranking (SEO). As we see their rankings slowly improving, we look back at advice from Google Webmaster Trends Analyst, Gary Illyes, on why secure search is getting more attention in Google’s algorithm. Let us explore what it means to organic search.
Slow Adoption Rates
Speaking two years ago Illyes said that, only 10% of URLs are HTTPS; and, 30% of search queries have at least one secure URL on a SERP.
So why haven’t more Webmasters switched to HTTPS? The simple answer: speed and complexity. During an SMX panel discussion, Illyes tried to dispel the misconceptions that HTTPS slows down a site and that it’s hard to implement.
History of HTTPS for Search Ranking
Matt Cutts, head of Webspam, mentioned during that year’s SMX West conference that security will become a ranking signal for Google’s algorithm. Going back as far as 2014, Google has been public with their opinion regarding HTTPS for search ranking. Illyes further expanded the discussion around broken security certificates. He interprets such lapses as a sign that a Webmaster doesn’t consider a user’s experience a top priority. But, it seems that the majority of small businesses are not aware of this.
SEO-Related Questions to Switching to HTTPS
When we changed our site from HTTP to HTTPS we had some major concerns about switching to HTTPS for search rankings. But Illyes addressed them nicely:
1. 301 Redirects from HTTP to HTTPS – will I lose SEO/link juice? According to Illyes, he says no, that there should be a 100% transfer. Good answer, however, I’d like to see more assurances that SEO equity would not be lost.
2. Does HTTPS affect page speed? No, it shouldn’t affect page speed and it’s appearance on a SERP.
3. Is it important even for non-e-commerce sites to make the switch? It is recommended, as it demonstrates integrity.
So it looks like HTTPS for search rankings is becoming, even more, a reality. What are your thoughts? Any concerns?
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photo credit: Scott Schiller